Vinland Saga continues to be one of the greatest historical manga to ever hit the stands.
I’ve been hooked on Vinland Saga since volume one, even though the series has had a lengthy calm period. After the explosive action of the first few, volumes 5 through 8 have been all about peace and avoiding violence. What gives! This volume, however, brings it back and it’s real good.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Fighting for a Future — Thorfinn and his crew are on their way to Greece, the first leg of their expedition to Vinland. Having landed near Bergen, in Norway, Thorfinn is attacked by a bear, only to be saved by a fierce huntress named Hild. While sharing a meal together, Hild recounts how her village and family were massacred many years ago—a story Thorfinn knows quite intimately. Now, Thorfinn must face Hild and his own violent past in order to press forward. As his journey progresses, Thorfinn encounters more factions that do not share his vision, and a war in the name of Vinland may be looming on the horizon.
Why does this book matter?
We’ve reviewed nearly every volume and they’ve all been very good–no reason to believe it’ll stop now. If you’re a history buff you’ll love this, as it’s well researched and the attention to detail has been impeccable. Seriously, do you even know what was going on in the year 1,002? Plus, the art very rarely uses a flat background, as the tiniest of panels showcase incredible detail in forests and towns. This is manga at its best.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The crossbow is a big part of the story in this volume.
This volume bookends very well, opening where the last volume left off with Hild deadset on killing Thorfinn. Since he has refused to kill or hurt another person again, Thorfinn is in a real pickle. She’s also ready to kill all his friends if Thorfinn doesn’t put himself into a battle one on one. She has a very good reason to kill Thorfinn because back when he was a killer he was part of the band that killed her family and changed her life forever. Oh and he killed her dad in front of her. Yikes. By the end it’s clear writer and artist Yukimura is building a relationship between Thorfinn and Hild, and all the while she’s committed to killing him. It’s a good setup that adds tension to every page.
Vinland fans are going to need this in their collection because Thorfinn is back to fighting, and boy is the fight choreography good. Later in the book, Thorfinn is forced to defend himself and it’s exciting to see he hasn’t lost a step. Because he has sworn not to kill, he’s also forced to fight in a different way not unlike Batman and it’s pretty badass.
The reason for fighting is probably one of the coolest elements of this volume. Avoiding spoilers, but this volume may redirect Thorfinn’s quest for quite some time. They say you can’t escape your past and that becomes very evident here. There are also a few familiar faces that pop up that’ll surprise and excite. Overall this story is back on track with the action and it’s as riveting as ever.
Oh, and it’s flipping funny too! Yukimura implements Gudrid’s baby with great visual and auditory humor and Bug-Eyes continues to be silly and the butt of jokes. The humor opens up the entertainment value while building up the relationships between the characters too.
The visuals continue to not disappoint either. As I said before, the action is exciting and well choreographed. The pace of the story feels quicker in this volume too and it makes it all feel more exciting. A key flashback brings back the old vibes well with Thorfinn in his robes and another dark, violent night of killing on display. This is a manga that clearly takes a lot of time and care to draw and it’s evident in every panel.
Love those speed lines!
It can’t be perfect can it?
The opening is quite slow, taking a while to get started and dragging out the threat of Hild on Thorfinn and his friends. Hild certainly needs to be strongly written since she will matter greatly to the narrative going forward, but there’s a physical danger aspect that actually loses its believability after a while. There’s also a supernatural element to why she stops herself from killing Thorfinn that seems somewhat out of the ordinary for this series. At the very least it’s a bit of Deus Ex Machina that cheapens all the time building up to the moment.
Is It Good?
I was having my doubts on how this series could sustain itself, but it totally redeemed itself here. Action and intense violence is back, the stakes have been raised and Hild adds some much needed danger and tension to every scene. If you’re burning for a historical drama, Vinland Saga will stoke your fire.